The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will begin distributing COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments in the next few weeks.
IRS – Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of North Carolina warns North Carolina taxpayers to be alert about possible scams relating to these payments as well as other malicious attempts to defraud people relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For most Americans, the Economic Impact Payment will be distributed automatically and will result in a direct deposit into the bank account designated by their 2018 or 2019 tax return. For eligible recipients who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their economic impact payment in this manner as well. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the Economic Impact Payment with no action required by most eligible recipients.
The IRS will not contact you to ask you to pay a fee or confirm personal information prior to receiving the Economic Impact Payment. If you receive a phone call, text, or email asking for payment or confirmation of personal or financial information, it is a scam. Do not give out your bank account, debit account or PayPal account information, even if caller claims it is necessary to get your check or that by doing so you can receive your payment faster. Additionally, don’t click on links in texts or emails relating to Economic Impact Payments, as this could allow scammers to place tracing devices on your electronic devices and gain access to your personal information for use at a later date. Don’t engage with scammers or thieves, simply hang up or delete texts/emails.
It will take a few weeks before the Treasury mails out the Economic Impact Payments. If you receive a “check” for an odd amount or a check that requires you to verify the check online or by calling a number, it is a fraud.
Matthew D. Line, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-CI Charlotte Field Office, made the following statement today in an effort to prevent taxpayers in need from being victimized by criminals using the recently approved payments as an opportunity to commit a crime, “I urge the public not to fall victim to fraudsters attempting to steal Economic Impact Payments being sent out. The IRS will not call, text, email or otherwise contact you to ask for your personal information. This money is meant to help mitigate the enormous financial impact COVID has had on the American public and businesses. Don’t fall victim to scammers.”
In addition to the warnings issued by IRS-Criminal Investigation, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is also actively formulating an investigative and legal response to fraud relating to COVID-19.